“Search the room! They couldn’t have vanished into thin air!”
“There’s nothing, George! The cellar is empty!”
“Wait, look! The brickwork over here has collapsed! They must have used earth magic to dig their way out!”
“Curses! Spread out around the inn and hunt them down! With an injured companion weighing them down, they can’t be far! Deliver them to our Lord!”
“What about the two we caught?”
“Throw them with the others. They’ll make fine sacrifices for the His Holiness.”
“Of course, George. For Maleosis!”
Determined not to let the heathens escape, all the cultists storm out of the cellar. All except one. Continue reading
“Ow, ow, ow…”
“Are you alright, Minna?”
“Ugh, it feels as if my head is splitting apart.”
“Here, let me heal you. <Soothe Pain>.”
“… Thank you, Lili. That really helps.”
“You’re always welcome, Minna. It seems all that alcohol is taking effect.”
“I swear I didn’t drink that much, but I guess it’s a stronger brew than the last. I can only imagine the agony that’s in store for Sen and Norf. They didn’t hold back with the free liquor at all.”
“Heaven have mercy on them. I’ll be sure to check on the two later.”
Thud, thud, thud….
“Hahaha! By the spirits, I never thought we would finish the quest so quickly AND down an A rank monster as well!”
“For heaven’s sake Sen, why are you already treating it like a fond memory!? You almost died today!”
“I know Minna, I know. I’m just really glad we finally laid the cursed quest to rest. I hated hearing Eric’s death being used for idle gossip.”
“I share your sentiment Sen and I must admit it feels good to finally put everything to rest.”
Thud, thud, thud…
“Come to think of it, do you reckon the Mellivorath was partially responsible for the rumours?”
“Perhaps, but no adventurer should have been here in the past month. If any bodies were recovered in Tiel Woods, the guild would have issued an investigation.”
“I hope they issue one regardless. The overpopulation of Boulder Beetles probably attracted the Mellivorath from a nearby Life Fall. We should report this for the sake of the villagers.”
“I agree, Lili. For all we know, there could be more of those things wandering the forest.”
“When you put it like that Minna, I’m glad we decided to leave the forest!”
Thud, thud, thud…
After successfully driving the Mellivorath away, we return to the clearing to salvage supplies from the aftermath of the battle. Minna is busy dismantling traps, Norf is recovering arrowheads and Lili is healing Hachirou’s and Sen’s weary bodies. Meanwhile, I’m harvesting horns from the scattered beetles to complete our quest. I doubt they will wait until nightfall for my explanation, and I can’t help but worry about what I will say. Finishing my task, I return to the clearing to find they are sitting atop a fallen tree, waiting for me to join. Cornered, I steel my non-existent nerves as I take my seat beside Hachirou and face the rest of the party.
Rousing at the crack of dawn, we split into two teams of three before setting off to begin the hunt. Each group has a bag of bait, a quota of fifteen beetles and an entire day before we rendezvous at camp. While I was expecting Lili to end up on my team, it seems yesterday’s argument has convinced the party otherwise. Relieved by this decision, I team up with Hachirou and Minna before setting off with some peace of mind.
Arriving at the water hole, we inspect the traps we laid the previous day. The centrepiece of our plan is a large magical circle of my own design. It’s inscribed to ensnare a few beetles at a time while I suffocate them from outside. Of course, I left the trap incomplete to avoid catching something during the night.
“Good morning Sen.”
“Good morning Minna. Is Lili still packing up?”
“She’s finishing her prayers. Where’s Enbos and Hachirou?”
“They haven’t left their room just ye- Ah, there they are!”
“Good morning everyone. Sorry for the delay, but we’re finally ready.”
“W-we had to clean up the room before we left. I hope you did not wait long.”
“Not at all, Hachirou. Once Lili arrives we can finally head to Tiel Woods.”
Standing in silence, I watch as Lili offers a prayer to the unnamed grave. She finishes with a wave of her sceptre, and allows Sen and Norf to begin unearthing the resident below. Sen’s pace slows with every scoop, but eventually the tightly covered body is revealed to the light once more. In this world, the dead are bound in layers of cloth instead of a coffin. Once buried, it is a crime to unwrap a corpse… unless you’re a member of the clergy. Taking great care to move the body, Norf lays the bundle on the surface where Lili begins unravelling the cloth with evident experience. No one can blame Sen and Minna for looking away, the pain of seeing someone they once knew reduced to such a state. For a horrifying instant, I’m reminded of the bloodied wrappings that covered Yuki, and quickly shake my head of those memories.